Land owners have closed a popular Far North bay to vehicles after complaints about bad driver behaviour on the beach.
Waikato Bay on the Karikari Peninsula, next to the Department of Conservation campsite at Maitai Bay, is normally a busy boat-launching site in summer.
However, a gate giving vehicle access to the beach was locked by the Waitai Raharuhi Whānau Trust on December 19 and is not due to re-open until January 30.
The closure may complicate the plans of some holidaymakers who will have to launch their boats from Rangiputa, Perihipe or Tokerau Beach instead.
The closure is in response to what the trust says are “numerous instances of dangerous and irresponsible driving on the beach”.
There are no restrictions on pedestrian access to Waikato Bay or Maitai Bay.
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The road through the Doc campground to Waikato Bay, also known as Merita Beach, crosses private Māori land, giving the landowners the legal right to restrict access.
Doc ranger supervisor Haina Tamehana said local whānau had been asking drivers to park their vehicles in the campground carpark instead of on the beach for a number of years, with little success.
“Last year was particularly bad, with motorbikes and vehicles hooning up and down the beach to the point where it was becoming increasingly dangerous for beachgoers to enjoy their time on the beach.”
Last January, the whānau had handed out flyers at the boat ramp letting boaties know closure was impending, Tamehana said.
A Doc staffer said a few people had objected to the closure, but most had been understanding once the reasons were explained.
Similar issues have arisen at the southern end of Ninety Mile Beach, where the only road access to Shipwreck Bay/Te Kohanga crosses Māori land.
Motorcyclists and quadbike riders have long irritated local iwi for damaging sand dunes and the vegetation that keeps erosion in check, but matters came to a head in August 2018 after Te Rarawa fenced off some of the worst-affected dunes on its land.
Te Kohanga land owners closed the road in response to a Whangārei man’s threat to organise a “Take back the dunes” motorbike rally. The protest did not eventuate.
The road was closed again in July this year for more than a week after vandals took a chainsaw to a pair of pou (carved posts) marking a marine conservation area at Tauroa Pt.